As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The wabbit weturneth

Indeed it has been another gweat weekend of wunning with  27 miles wan, and 7 of those were wacing.

The wace, sorry race, was the Northern Cross Country championship, held this year in Ponefract, around the racecourse. The course was more or less flat, the only hill to speak of was a long sloping aspect to the top half of the course which was neither hard to run up nor fast coming back down. The ground was firm grass all the way around the 4 kilometre lap. In places it was such good going it was like running on the road and only a very short section was muddy.
11 minutes after the official sunrise we see it in Carlisle - Pesky Pennines
Whilst I can see that a big championship event like this needs a suitable course, and the compact nature of the Hyndburn course two weeks ago would perhaps have been unsuitable, the  extreme mud,twists, hills etc of that location was very much a 'proper' cross country course and Pontefract was anything but!

Milly and Kev - seldom parted
The weather was quite superb for the whole day - bright sun warming our faces as we sat around (in coats) outside of the club gazebo.

The race itself went not too bad. I made a cautious start for fear of struggling toward the end of what was a longer than normal XC. Once into my stride on lap two I realised that due to the lack of slower sections or tough mud and hills, I was able to press on quite hard (as if in a road race) and be rewarded with a decent speed and so catching and passing a lot of runners. The third and final lap I pretty much held station and was 204th finisher from about 650 in the field. Border Harriers were 9th team - one place better than 2011, I was the sixth and final counter.

My legs felt jaded for the race. The first time I have had such heavy legs since the Derwentwater event last November. I knew that tired legs during a Saturday afternoon race were very unlikely to have recovered much by the next morning...

As I set off on my 20 miler I actually felt quite OK. The target was 7 pace and at one mile the clock showed 7:04, good pacing. Todays weather was similar to yesterday in that it was calm and cold, but no sun at all today. After 8 miles I collected a gel and a drink of juice which I had given to friends who live on the course and who kindly placed in a wee hideyhole to save me having to drive out there prior to running.
Thanks Gareth/Ali.

After 10 miles I was almost back in the city and merely 4 miles from home, but of course was turning back on myself for the 10 mile return leg. Immediately after the turn I had a short hill to climb - this REALLY made itself known in my legs and I slowed my pace until I reached the top. The next wee hill was at 14 miles and I eased up again for it but then the last 6 miles to home I found it very easy to cruise along at 6:45 - 6:50 per mile resulting in  6:54 overall for the full distance.

 Due to this tough weekend I am planning to reduce tomorrows easy 7 road miles with Milly and his cronies to an hour on grass with Scamp.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What do people do at 530?

I changed into my running gear at work, put my clothes, wallet and phone etc into the van for someone else to take home for me, and set off for my midweek-long-run at 4:03. Even with 10 minutes added to last weeks run, and a couple of minutes on top of that due to not being quite all the way home after 70, I was in the house by 5:20 - training finished, Scamp walked.

On the one hand its great to be finished,  but now I'm at a loss what to do for the next couple of hours. If it was light I could chop some firewood or tidy the garden.  What do that vast majority of people-who-get-home-soon-after-5-oclock-but-dont-go-training do?

One day earlier it was track night again. I was a little disappointed to find the club coach had us doing 1200m efforts instead of the 1600m of the previous two weeks. Had I known I might have considered doing miles on my own an hour sooner, as its quite a wait for me and I cant really just walk Scamp for the whole time - after an hour walking and climbing fences, down river banks etc I feel ready for a brief rest before then training hard.

My time for the 4, three lap reps was (min/mile pace in brackets)
3:54 (5:12)
3:48 (5:04)
3:52 (5:11)
3:54 (5:12)
Apart from that second one, I wasnt quite as close to the Milly group as last week. I felt quite tired for these and was pleased to be running a mile less than last week. Next week will be 1200s again so I might stay away from the track and get out at 4pm and do 4x1mile then walk/jog with Scamp as a warm down

The day prior to that was an easy 45 mins with the lads and the day before that - Sunday- I had really enjoyable run round Gelt Woods with Plucky for 70 minutes.

Not recording how far I run (save from mentioning it here), I just added up the last couple of weeks in my head. 55-60 miles per week at present. Quite a lot for an old timer like me - I need to schedule an easy week soon, perhaps 5 days either side of the Buttermere race would be good, (though I know racing one of Britains toughest 20m+ events isn't exactly taking it easy).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tough run

Well it didn't go as well as two weeks ago. 1hr 30mins 30secs for 14 miles is 6:28 per mile - four seconds per mile slower than last time!

The weather was similar, windy, but also some cold showers today too. Running with Darren from the start we ran a very metronomic 6:21 pace for those first 5 miles. In hindsight we should have been nearer 6:15 pace to gain a cushion against the headwind later on. Darren didn't turn with me at the 7 mile mark, he was only 3 miles from his house at that point and had always planned to leave me.

The first two miles of the return went well - 6:21 pace again. In fact, of the 7 miles return leg only about 2miles seemed a struggle against the wind. Unfortunately one of those was very exposed and into a really gusty direct headwind which dropped my pace to about 6:45!

Another half mile of that same headwind when I was on the cycle track that runs just inside a big open field  again had me slowing. But then it was over and I could relax and jog the mile home. I know one minute slower is bugger all over 14 miles and I 'm not really disappointed, but when running well I kind of expect to  get faster week upon week though I know that is not a realistic hope.

Looking back to 2010 and also last years entries for the Jan-March period revealed that I am currently running the mile reps significantly faster, the long slow runs a little faster, and the marathon pace runs a little slower.

My long runs are feeling very easy though, well inside 7 pace without having to press on at the end to any great degree. Mile rep times reveal  speed/fitness/ability has increased which is obviously good, but counts for much less in a marathon than a 10k. and the marathon pace runs of 2 years ago, which were indeed fast at 6:20 pace, sometimes quicker, were only 6 - 8 miles in January, building up week on week.

Whilst I still haven't written up a schedule for what is now 13 weeks until the marathon, one thing I do need to do is write in my races and plan a couple of easy weeks within this three month spell of training - otherwise I will end up burnt out and too tired to train.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Extra Extra read all about it

What an arduous run on Wednesday - NOT.

How fast could Scamp run a marathon?
In time my midweek long run will be 90 minutes +, but I need to start somewhere and I figured 60 minutes would do. Offroad and in the dark means I am forced to take it much easier than if it were a road run but I am unconcerned about the pace and will be working on time only. Being able to do this run with Scamp I can get out by about 430pm and this means I am home and finished nice 'n early compared to most other training days. I might even start this run from work next week. It is still light at 4pm so I could do 75 minutes and be home by 515. Much as I love training I also love having finished training and lounging about snacking and napping.

Plucky is running three times per week and, with his biking a lot too, is keeping very fit. Despite being rather speedy myself these days, the run with him each Thursday is quite an effort. And the fact that he keeps upping the time (now at 70 minutes) makes it quite a decent spell of training.

Day off today. I need it with the 14mile tempo run coming up in the morning.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So much better than last weeks

Today I have mostly been taking photos of Scamp
7  days after doing those mile reps we did them again tonight.

Tonights times (last weeks in brackets)
5:27 (5:29)
5:22 (5:22)
5:20 (5:24)
5:27 (5:29)

Just 8 seconds faster over 4 miles might not seem a lot but as Paul Daniels said - every second counts.

As always, I was unable to hold onto the coattails of the Milly/Jason Holmes/George Thompson group tonight. For the third rep I vowed to run three laps right on their shoulder and I managed to  OK. Hopefully next time I will be able to run with these lads for at least one full mile.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

a Worthwhile Weekend of Wunning

as Bugs bunny might say.

Being my long easy run weekend (as opposed to long-ish but very hard run weekend), I saw no good reason not to do a race on the Saturday and then train long on Sunday.

Many of Scamps sticks have clouted me on the leg!!
The race was the Mid Lancs Cross Country League meeting at Hyndburn. I just scraped inside the top 50 of 280 odd finishers. Superb course for a XC - lots of mud, lots of switching back and forth between trees, several little banks to climb and descend. Many a complaint was heard afterwards about spikes being ruined on the footpath which had to be crossed several times per lap. Indeed , Millys were not only missing the actual spike but on both shoes the round plastic area holding the spike was completely ripped from the sole of the shoe! I was pleased to have used my fellshoes - they are all I have got anyway and its on only very wet and sloping grass when I feel they might let me down.

My long run was 18 miles. I couldn't get anybody to join me so after putting it off until 11AM  I
left the house advising Janet that I should be back in 2 hours and 6 minutes. I returned to the house at 13:06. It wasnt quite a precise as that though because the first and last mile are not measured. My actual timed run was 16 miles which I completed at 6:50 per mile. At the end I stopped my watch but continued running the same effort to home. So overall it was a one mile warm up, a brief stop to retie my lace then 17miles non stop. I didnt need to put much effort in to get these splits, in fact, I ran faster for the last 5 miles than any previous. But then if I was trying hard this couldnt be classed an easy long run.

Today is 14 weeks to VLM (Virgin London Marathon). Apart from the change I already mentioned in the midweek, I will maintain a very similar training pattern to recent weeks.

In other news - that annoying cough that is troubling my sleep is on the wane. I now only cough in the night for about 10 minutes before falling back to sleep. I'm pretty sure its nothing to worry about as my chest feels absolutely fine and if I was ill then I think this weekends racing and two hour run within 24 hours would have seen me in trouble. Janet got one of those peak flow metre thingies from somewhere - its me new favourite toy. I can almost blow it off the top of the scale, but then some would say I was always full of hot air.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The last 5 miles

Since mid November - following the Brampton 10 mile race - I have ran my 5 mile circuit many many times. Sometimes because I couldn't be bothered to do a 'proper' training run but more often because I didn't see any requirement to run further. I always ran it briskly but not flat out and I always hoped for a 30 minute time but never got inside 30:30.

With last nights mile reps in my legs I struggled a bit tonight with 31:30. That's it now though - no more of these for a few months. A longer slower run will replace this on a Wednesday night, and any other night when I might have done the brisk 5 I will be more likely to now do a recovery run instead to help get over the ever increasing marathon mileage.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oooh, now that HURT

Track session with Border Harriers.
Four by one mile.

This was the first time since mid November that I have done anything remotely like reps. I didn't really get a proper warm up and actually missed the first one starting, then having to run it 10 metres behind the others from the start and of course falling back every lap.

The average pace for the Four was good considering the time gap since I last did them and that I am currently spending about 2 hours a night lying awake coughing. Its VERY annoying to be feeling absolutely fine in myself but having such an annoying cough whenever I am hot.

At present I am enjoying training more than I can ever remember enjoying it. No sooner have I got one good session or run in the bag than I am eagerly awaiting it being time to go out and run the next one. Right now for example, less than 60 mins since completing the track run, my legs are feeling pretty ropey, but  I can hardly wait for Wednesday night to come so I can run the 5 miles brisk that I have planned.

I think I am enjoying it so much because I am running so well these days. Theres nowt like running fast to make you want to try harder, get fitter, so you can maybe run even faster still. Several small niggles have more or less gone away for now - both Achilles, often inflamed and tender after running, are behaving themselves. The mildly annoying groin issue that often makes itself known as left side stiffness after long runs hasn't bothered me in a while, and even the long term plantar fasciitis soreness can scarcely be felt when I first step on the floor upon getting up from bed each morning.

As long as there are people older than me who can run faster than me I will never give up striving to become fitter, faster and stronger.

And yet despite all this positivity I am considering NOT bothering with a strict training plan for London Marathon. I know that looking at all those miles, sessions, goals and totals written down will be daunting. and that by mid March I will be wishing I had chosen an earlier marathon. I think I have learned enough over the years to train well and run a good 26 mile race purely from week by week training rather than long term planning. I also fancy adding in a few more races than normal in the run up to London. I would usually only do the Buttermere race and possibly a half marathon and maybe a fell race at Easter. But this year I intend to do the Trimpell 20 miler as well as Buttermere, and I'm also doing the Northern Cross Country Champs and hopefully the nationals too in London.

Most of all I know the importance of taking it easy inbetween hard training sessions. Yesterday was a very easy 45 minutes with Milly and his cronies.  And yes tomorrow will be fast, but it's only half an hour, and Thursdays run with Plucky, whilst pacey, only really bites a bit in the final 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Easy day

Popped into Gelt Woods this morning. A few lads were doing a long run there and I decided I may as well have an hour with them. As they tackled their first lap I walked Scamp and took a few photo, then I joined in for lap two. It was pleasantly warm once we got going - tee shirt and shorts were all that were required.

After almost one hour of running I had to choose whether to do another lap with Plucky or go home. I certainly felt like doing another 30 minute lap but opted for the sensible alternative. Little to be gained in terms of fitness from doing the extra but with it would be an increase in the likelihood of injury and fatigue.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On the fourteenth day of Christmas,

I ran fourteen miles. Day 365 will be tough

Actually it was 16 miles today but only 14 were timed, with a mile jog to/from the start point. This was to be a bit of a test to see where I was in terms of ability at this point some 15 weeks out from the Marathon.
A tailwind start wasn't ideal as I knew I needed to be pressing on to gain time that would be lost later, but, with no wind in my face the sweat poured down from my temples and I overheated quickly. I was on about 6:17 pace which was OK I guess, but once I turned at 7 miles the headwind made its presence felt with several miles over 6:30 being recorded. The last 4 miles were horrible but I simply pushed ever harder to cross the line in 1:29:30 which is 6:24 per mile.

Windy times
Not having 'officially' started my proper marathon training schedule yet I am quite happy with that result. Next week I will return to the long slow stuff with at least 18 miles at (hopefully) sub 7.

Since last weekends race I only ran twice prior to today. Both times were for one hour with Plucky. Its not measured and we neither have a Garmin but Im sure it would be no slower than about 6:35 pace - it certainly felt quite brisk and coupled with being at night and through the town, dodging cars etc, both were very worthwhile runs.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A racing start to 2012

So far in 2012....

Races - One
Days - Two
Pounds paid out to enter races - Five
Race position - Seven
Miles ran  - Eight
Standards - Nine
Pounds won in race prizes - Fifty

I didn't expect much of the Nine Standards Fellrace really. It was simply a means of getting a tough run under my belt for training purposes. I ran 14 miles the day before it, cut back from 16 to avoid being too tired to race, but at a decent 6:45 pace nevertheless.

After the initial melee to get through the twisty streets and lanes and out of the town onto the quiet road that sees the climbing start in earnest I was in 10th place.

I easily moved up the field when we got to a short downhill section still on the tarmac, and was in 5th at one stage. Once the fell proper was underfoot I was re caught by a few runners, two of whom stayed ahead of me to the end. It took a bit of daredevil descending by me to stay on the shoulder of multi fell champion Pippa Madams, but I knew I would leave her behind once we regained the tarmac. A few glances over my shoulder in the last 2 miles allowed me to see I was being chased down by several lads. Nobody actually caught me but its a bit disappointing to not have stretched my lead and came close to catching those ahead, especially as I am supposed to be first and foremost a road runner and the last two miles were on  tarmac.

I had a strange niggle in my right leg whilst walking Scamp before the race and considered not running at all. It hurt a bit whilst running uphill but running the 4 miles downhill I more or less forgot about it until I finished when it hurt LOADS more. I knew it was just some soft tissue tendinitis, not skeletal, so I figured a days rest and some ice would be all that was needed to sort it. Today I cant feel it at all, though my legs are quite tired generally.

It seems weird seeing the photos of me in my Keswick AC vest. I joined as a second claim member because Border Harriers have no real fell presence. The £6 pounds to join the club and £19 for the vest I paid out has been exactly reimbursed with a £25 prize for first team yesterday. I also got £25 for 2nd vet 40. Nobody enters races for the prizes, lets face it they are usually comprised wine and biscuits and sometimes sports shop vouchers, but if they were as good as this every time it would almost be worth turning pro.

Million thanks so Penriths Stu Stoddat for the race photos